You know you need to secure your mobile application. It’s probably near the top of a long -- and seemingly ever-expanding -- list of things to do. Running a business can be exhausting, especially if you offer a wide range of mobile apps. Yet failing to secure your mobile app may be one of the most costly mistakes you can make. Here’s why you need to move this priority to the top of your to-do list -- and what you can do to finally feel fully confident in your mobile app.
Mobile App Security: An Environment of Evolving Threats
You don’t use the same computer you used 10 years ago, or the same smartphone you had five years ago. So why would you use the same security strategy? Mobile app threats are evolving at a more rapid speed than ever. Yet app developers and the small business that hire them frequently rely on outdated security tools, or protect themselves only against the threats of five years, five months, or five weeks ago.
If you’re not continually evolving with the changing threat landscape, you might as well not be using any security tools at all.
And remember, mobile security needs to do more than just keep out hackers. Physical thefts are also on the rise. In 2015, 113 smartphones were stolen every minute. That’s a figure that continues to rise. By 2020 smartphones will make up 30% of IP traffic, making them a premium -- and easily accessible -- target for thieves and miscreants of all varieties.
Consider these sobering mobile app security statistics:
- 70 million smartphones are lost each year, and just 7% are recovered.
- 4.3% of company-issued smartphones are stolen every year.
- Nearly 200 million sensitive records were compromised in 2015.
- Financial companies took an average of 98 days to notice a breach in 2015.
- A data breach costs an average of $21,000 per day.
- It costs an average of $7.7 million annually to respond to a data breach.
- At least 20% of data breaches involve social engineering.
- There was a 153% increase in Android malware apps from 2014-2015.
- The average cyber attack costs enterprises $1.3 million dollars. The cost to small businesses averages $117,000 per breach.
We’re clearly facing an epidemic. If your neighborhood were full of crime and a break-in seemed inevitable, you’d invest in a world-class security system, right? Yet most businesses do little to secure their apps. Perhaps human psychology is to blame. We’re only afraid of that which we can see. A physical attack might seem scarier than a virtual attack, but the effects can be the same: financial and reputation catastrophe, and even physical danger.
Human psychology can be a powerful barrier to powerful security. None of us wants to believe we’ll be the next target of an attack. Small businesses think criminals are interested in bigger businesses, or that it’s unlikely that criminals even know about their apps. Hacking, however, is a crime of opportunity. Hackers target low-hanging fruit first. If your mobile app is poorly secured, then you’re a prime target -- no matter what kind of app you publish or what sort of business you run.
Here are some scary statistics we want to share:
- 75% of mobile apps will fail the most basic security test.
- 85% of the top 200 free games on Google Play can be decompiled.
- 96% of the top 100 Google Play free games can be reverse-engineered.
- 97% of mobile apps lack binary protection.
This leads us to ask the question -- Is your app among this vulnerable group? Time to change that. You can feel confident in your mobile app, but only with the right security approach.
Why You Need to Care About Mobile App Security
Budgets are tight. The competitive landscape most companies face is more demanding than ever, with downward pressure from larger entities, and pressure from up and coming companies just itching to replace you. So most business owners are willing to do just about anything to save a buck. With mobile app threats seeming so remote, so distant, it’s tempting to say you’ll address security issues tomorrow.
Tomorrow could spell disaster if you take that approach. Mobile app security isn’t just something that can put your customers in danger. It can also wreck your business.
Consider the consequences of a serious breach:
- You will almost certainly lose goodwill among your customers. The brand and reputation you’ve spent years building could be lost overnight. And that may mean spending significant resources on a marketing campaign to regain consumer confidence, assuming it’s even possible to do so.
- Your customers might sue you. Lawsuits are always expensive, even if you win. But if consumers can show that you knowingly marketed a poorly secured app, you could shell out thousands, and maybe even millions, because you weren’t willing to spend a little cash on security at the outset.
- You could be subject to government investigations and fines.
- Your business could be directly targeted by hackers who steal trade secrets, proprietary code, and other intellectual property. They could even access your bank account.
- You will likely have to take your app off the market until it is safe to use, costing you money at a time when your business is already vulnerable.
- You may have to spend money you don’t have to secure your app, or risk no longer being able to distribute the app.
Secure Now or Secure Later? Why Security Should Be Part of Development
Many businesses take a linear approach to app development: first comes an idea, then development, and then marketing. Finally, at some point -- often after the app is released -- businesses take a hard look at security.
By then it may already be too late. Your app can be hacked without knowing it. Consider that most businesses don’t notice a breach for months, resulting in massive data leakage. Even if you’re lucky enough not to face a breach, addressing security issues after the fact is more expensive, more cumbersome, and more likely to cause you to take shortcuts.
Instead, security needs to be built into your app from the very beginning. This means either working with a team you trust, or hiring a consulting firm that can help you along the way.
Because unintelligent app development can mean that security problems are baked into the recipe, so to speak. For example, bad actors sometimes offer “free” malicious code on coding sites and message boards. If you don’t carefully review each and every line, there may be malicious lines of code at the core of your application. Or if you work with contractors or freelancers, you might even end up with a developer who deliberately or accidentally adds in malicious code or otherwise creates a profoundly unsecure app.
The time to begin thinking about security is well before you create an app. If you’ve already published and marketed your app, though, it’s not too late. AppSolid can offer a comprehensive evaluation that makes security seamless, affordable, and most importantly of all, effective.
Benefits of Excellent Mobile App Security
You know you need to feel confident that your app is secure. But sometimes, adding an item to your to-do list that’s only about avoiding stress can be, well, stressful. So consider this: securing your app isn’t just a way to prevent bad things from happening. It’s also a great way to support your business. It just might even give you a competitive edge.
No matter how unique your niche is, you are now competing in a global environment where anyone from anywhere can develop and market an app. It’s no wonder that businesses come into existence and disappear so quickly in this new landscape. You have competitors, and odds are good that many of them are marketing substantially similar products.
So how can you set yourself apart? Customers want good security. They’re tired of hearing about costly breaches, of dealing with businesses that don’t care about protecting their security and well-being. Become a trusted partner and app source to these customers by making security a priority. Then be vocal about your commitment to security. Tell consumers what they’re getting, and why. Not only is this a fabulous marketing strategy; it’s also a way to encourage consumers to install updates and patches, and to protect their devices. That’s a win for everyone.
Some other benefits associated with excellent security include:
- Access to a niche market sector that focuses doggedly on security. Technology experts have money to spend. Shouldn’t you be marketing to them?
- Fewer public relations catastrophes. If you’ve never had a major security breach, then you’ve already got a significant competitive edge.
- Access to a more sophisticated market. More and more consumers are mindful of security. Don’t you want to cater to them?
- Massive savings. You might spend a little more at the outset to create and market secure apps. But you won’t have to worry about an unexpected lawsuit or public relations fiasco.
- A way to set yourself apart from the competition. What are you doing differently to secure your app? Tell consumers about it, and watch them flock to your business.
What Does Good Mobile App Security Look Like?
Mobile app security is a dynamic, ever-evolving process -- not something you can invest in once and then forget. So don’t fall for scams that offer you a single security check or program that will fix everything. Indeed, these offers sometimes actually install malware.
So what does good security look like? Some hallmarks of effective security practices include:
- Catering to the way consumers actually use their devices, rather than how they should. If a consumer is not knowledgeable, can the app still be secure? The answer should be yes.
- Regularly offering patches and updates based on new security threats. The most effective protocols urge or even force consumers to install these updates, without fundamentally altering how the app works. Updates that change the app irritate consumers and make them less likely to install future updates.
- Strategies for managing data. The more data your app collects, the more vulnerable it is. So apps that must collect a lot of data demand much more rigid security.
- Education for consumers. Make sure your app tells consumers what information it collects and how that information may or may not be used. This offers some protection against behavioral engineering attacks.
- Intelligent encryption of sensitive data using modern, sound encryption techniques.
- Binary protection such as that offered by AppSolid.
- Minimal information stored on the device itself. Cloud storage allows a consumer to wipe their data if a device is stolen or the app is otherwise compromised.
- Limited permissions. Don’t ask for access to everything, or a breach can undermine a consumer’s entire life. Ask only for permissions the app needs to run correctly.
- Regular security testing. Good security evolves based on new and emerging threats. The only way to know which of those threats are likely to affect your app is to regularly engage in security testing.
- Limiting in-house access to sensitive data. Most security breaches actually come from within, so don’t give all of your employees free and open access to data that could be used to compromise the apps you distribute.
Embrace these policies and you’ll no longer have to worry about your app, your reputation, or the ever-looming specter of a breach.
How AppSolid Helps You Win the Security Wars
The battle for a secure app never ends. It only changes. So don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. You could hire an in-house security team, or only work with an app development company that does so. But that’s a costly undertaking. Moreover, in-house threats are very real. So outsourcing your security can be an affordable, safe way to create apps that are fully secured.
AppSolid offers industry leading cloud-based protection. We free you to do what you do best -- run a successful business. We can begin helping you secure your apps or offer advice on the development of more secure apps today. Reach out and we’ll show you how. With AppSolid on your team, you can cross one of the most important items off of your to-do list, and finally feel confident in your mobile applications security.